Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Sean Paul Murphy, Writer
Sean Paul Murphy, Storyteller

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Yippee-Ki-Yay Mother Podcast #115: Citizen Kane

Here's another exciting COVID-free ZOOM edition of the Yippee-Ki-Yay Mother Podcast, a lively discussion of the movies that sometimes devolves into a group therapy session. 

In this episode we begin a new format. The member who wins the spin must bring a film to the table he/she had never seen before. Unsurprisingly, Podmaster Ralph won the first spin of the wheel. More surprisingly, Ralph picked the 1941 Orson Welles classic Citizen Kane. Actually, it's hard to tell what is more surprising: that Ralph had never seen Citizen Kane, or that he brought it to the show. This is the kind of "film school" picture he specifically wants us to avoid.

Did he like it? Watch and find out.

Here's the trailer for film:

            

Here's the podcast on YouTube:

      

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Other Episodes:
1. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)2. Marathon Man3. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three4. Hellraiser5. Cinema Paradiso6. The Night Watchmen with actor/producer Ken Arnold7. Black Dynamite with producer Matt Richards8. The Spanish Prisoner9. Special: Presidents Day LaserDisc Hunt10. Natural Born Killers11. Slap Shot12. mother!13. Ladies' Choice14. That Thing You Do! with one hit wonder Lee Bonner15. Body Heat16. Three Days of the Condor17. Martyrs18. Beautiful Boy19. The Princess Bride20. Miracle Mile with Casting Director Billy DaMota21. Waterworld22. Smokey and the Bandit23. The Thing From Another World24. The Hudsucker Proxy25. Goldfinger26. Superman27. LA Confidential28. Little Miss Sunshine29. UHF30. The Witch31. The Haunting (1963)32. Mad Max: Fury Road33. The Counselor34. Raiders of the Lost Ark35. The French Connection36. The 33 with Lou Diamond Phillips37. Round Robin: Mise En Scene II38. Run Lola Run39. Young Frankenstein40. Mud41. The Spitfire Grill42. This Is Spinal Tap43. Singin' In The Rain44. The Hospital45. Klute46. Be Kind Rewind47. Round Robin: Halloween Films48. The Descent49. The Commitments50. Galaxy Quest51. Phantasm52. The Bride of Frankenstein53. Arlington Road54. Round Robin: Holiday Films55. A Christmas Carol (1951)56. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation57. Western Showdown58. Sports Films Showdown59. Buddy Films Showdown60. Vampire Films Showdown61. Wind River62. 3 Day Weekend with filmmakers Wyatt McDill and Megan Huber63. The Shawshank Redemption64. Donnie Brasco with former Mafia associate Kenji Gallo65. Promising Young Woman66. My Favorite Year67. Fletch68. A Hard Day's Night69. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood70. Round Robin: Movie Biographies71. Round Robin: SNL Cast Films72. Working Girl73. Fatal Attraction74. Round Robin: Gangster Films75. Round Robin: Teen Comedies76. Round Robin: Time Travel Films77. Barcelona78. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb79. Nightcrawler80. Wings Of Desire81. The Sting82. Thief83. Round Robin: Scary Movies84. Forbidden Planet85. Friday the 13th Part 5 A New Beginning with star John Shepherd86. Round Robin: Nicolas Cage Films87. Round Robin: Christmas Recommendations 202188. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot89. A Face In The Crowd90. Stir Crazy91. Any Given Sunday with KC Chief Eric Hicks92. Cool Runnings93. Soylent Green94. Ladies Choice 295. Special Oscar Edition: The Power of the Dog,  96. Round Robin: World War II Films97. Round Robin: Biblical Epics98. Born Yesterday,  99. The Vanishing (Spoorloos)100. Airplane!101. Ready Or Not102. They Call Me Trinity103. Streets of Fire104. Round Robin: 1980s Action Films105. Round Robin: Based on a True Story106. What Are We Watching?107. Guilty Pleasures108. Taxi Driver with LA Times Reviewer Gary Goldstein109. The Ninth Configuration110. Chungking Express111. The Maltese Falcon112. Bad Day At Black Rock113. The Green Knight114. Notting Hill115. Citizen Kane


My novel Chapel Street is now available! You can currently buy the Kindle and paperback at Amazon and the Nook, paperback and hardcover at Barnes & Noble.


Learn more about the book, click Here.

Watch the book trailer:

  

Listen to me read some chapters here:

Monday, August 8, 2022

The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 25, Joe's Story

Joe -- Back in the day.

My novel Chapel Street was inspired by my experiences growing up in a "haunted" house at 21 St. Helens Avenue* in the Northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Lauraville. This series of blogs provides an oral history of the actual haunting that inspired the book. 

Like Lisa, the subject of my previous interview, Joe is not a member of the Murphy family. He is a friend of my brother John. He and his late brother Jeff spent so much time at the house that my mother periodically called her fifth son. I was anxious to talk with him because there was a period when he spent more time in the house than I did! This interview was scheduled and delayed many times because of health issues, but I am happy Joe finally felt good enough to finally talk. He had some interesting experiences. 

The interview was conducted on Zoom.  My niece Emily kindly transcribed it. It has been edited for clarity. I also edited out all last names except Murphy.

Here's a clip from the interview:

  

SEAN: First, Joe, good to see you.

JOE: Good to see you. I had two seizures, so I'm lucky to be here.

SEAN: We know you're lucky to be here. 

CLARA: You're like my next, another son. Number five son.

SEAN: So Joe, tell us your name and how you became aware, became friendly with the Murphy family and started to hang out at 21 St. Helen's Ave.

JOE: Hm. I was hanging out at - it was John - I mean, Brian  tried to get me in a fight with Jason, and then I started hanging out at the ball field, and everybody started playing ball, and then Brian - then John Murphy came down, and then he started playing some ball, so I got to meet him. And I was older, I was older than everybody, so I basically was better than everybody. But I mean, it was a fun time. And I got to learn, I got to meet John and go to his house, and I started spending the night over his house and going up in the - the first time I spent the night in his house was spending the night up in the computer room, which was up right adjacent to your room, what was the sewing room, the sewing room, the computer room where the computer was. He used to go downstairs for a while and get drinks and stuff like that. I never really saw much when I was up there. I mean, I felt weird feelings.

SEAN: So when did you - when you first became aware of things, were you told about it first, or did you experience it first?

JOE: Well, I experienced it first. It was one of the first things I saw, when I got a little bit older and we started hanging out there with, like, John Murphy's crew and his party crew and all his party friends, and we were all hanging out. And one of the things, the first thing I saw when we were playing football and all, we had just got done playing football, we were all tired, and I came in and I was talking to Doug Murphy**, and he was always sitting in that chair, and there was a mirror behind him in the chair, and I was looking in the mirror and the - there's a lantern behind the mirror.

SEAN: In the -

JOE: Yeah, there was a lantern, and the lantern was swaying back and forth. I was like, what the hell? I was like, who the hell - somebody must have hit it on the way in. Somebody must have hit it and made it go back and forth.

CLARA: Was that out in the hallway?

JOE: Hm?

CLARA: The one that was out in the hallway?

JOE: Yeah, yeah. You could see it through the mirror.

This is chandelier Joe saw moving.

CLARA: Right.

JOE: But then I looked, I turned around to look at it, I turned around to look at it and it was - it wasn't swaying anymore, it was straight. I was like, what the fuck? What the hell?

SEAN: And then when you looked back in the mirror, was it still swinging?

JOE: When I looked back in the mirror, it was still straight. So I looked back at it again and it was - I looked back out of the mirror and it was still straight, and then when I looked back in the mirror again, it was all the way sideways. I was like, oh, shit, what the - what the hell?

SEAN: Was it, like, stationary sideways?

JOE: Yeah, yeah.

CLARA: He's talking about the one that was out in the hallway.

SEAN: Yeah, exactly.

CLARA: Not the one that was in the living room.

SEAN: Yeah, I know. Yeah so -

JOE: I didn't believe what I was seeing. I mean, I was like, there's something. I mean, I'm not seeing what I'm seeing. I mean, I turned around and looked behind me and it was straight.

CLARA: That thing weighed a ton, too. That was stained glass and it was iron.

JOE: Was it? Yeah, I didn't know. Yeah, I turned around behind me and looked and it was straight, and when I looked in the mirror and it was straight again.

SEAN: Yeah, other people have seen that swing, too, you know, when it shouldn't have been, or when it wasn't. So did you mention that to anybody? Did you mention that to my father, Doug Murphy?

JOE: Not to Doug, no. To a few of people though, a few people have heard. I mean, I was telling stories about the shit that we heard and seen. But I mean, that's - not Doug, though. Doug didn't believe in much of it, you know what I'm saying?

 
Here's a photo Joe took of Doug. 
He is sitting in the chair and mirror is above him.

CLARA: No, I don't think he did.

SEAN: No, he didn't.

CLARA: You're right with that, Joe.

SEAN: So did you mention that to John?

JOE: Yeah, yeah.

SEAN: What did he say?

JOE: Oh, he didn't care that much. He was like, yeah, okay, that's cool. Because at that time, the piano was doing its own thing. It was like, ding ding.

SEAN: You heard the piano playing?

JOE: Oh, yeah. Once in a while you'd hear the piano, the piano playing downstairs. This was early. It didn't happen like that much later. It happened more earlier, like when we were younger. But I didn't hear anything when I was old, when we were older.

SEAN: Now, when the piano played, did it play a song or did it just like play notes?

JOE: I couldn't tell. I think a song, one of them. One of them was a song, but the rest of them was just notes. Just [mimics piano notes]. It might have been a little song, a little beginning of a song. And the other one was long. But I mean, I couldn't tell what it was playing. But it was some crazy shit. It was pretty crazy long. I mean, I always thought that someone was messing around.

SEAN: Now, did you ever hear - you know, we had the organ. Was the organ still there when you were hanging out?

JOE: The organ?

SEAN: You know, the organ that was also on the first floor? The pump organ?

CLARA: I don't think that was there the whole time.

JOE: No.

SEAN: Okay. I was wondering if you ever heard the pump organ playing.

JOE: No, I don't remember any organ.

SEAN: Okay. That was probably before your time.

JOE: Yeah, I don't remember that. That was crazy.

SEAN: Mark destroyed the pump organ.

CLARA: I told him.

SEAN: Yeah, he was given permission to.

CLARA: I told him he could do that.

JOE: I remember when the basement was filled with nothing but a pool table and poop.

CLARA: Ping-pong table.

SEAN: Ping-pong table and poop.

JOE: Pool table, and you could walk around and play pool while smelling poop.

SEAN: Yeah.

CLARA: Oh, there was a pool table there for a while.

SEAN: Yeah, so - yeah, first we had a ping-pong table.

CLARA: And then there was a pool table.

SEAN: Yeah.

CLARA: You remember more than I do, Joe.

SEAN: So what was the next major thing you saw that was supernatural of nature in the house?

JOE: Let's see, let's see. We have the bathroom closet.

CLARA: Oh, the bathroom closet. Everybody's favorite closet.

SEAN: So what happened with the bathroom closet?

JOE: Oh, man, that was open. Every time you closed it, it was always open a little bit. Have it open a crack, it would be open a crack, you'd close it. It was like there was - I mean, you'd close it securely and it would be open a crack, or open even all the way. The door would just be open. And I'd be like, what the? Who could have gone in here? And you'd always feel like someone was watching you from inside there. You always thought something was watching you from inside there and you, like, wanted to have a weapon on you, like, in case something jumped you out of the closet.

SEAN: Yeah.

JOE: But yeah, I never heard anything in there, but it was crazy. It was weird. That door and the bathroom door, the bathroom door would be open and closed, and then the door to the upstairs. The door to the upstairs was always open and closed. It was like inviting you to come up. It was like, every time you come out, it was like opening, it wanted you to come up there.

I remember, that's another thing that brings me to that, is the time when I heard Ms. Murphy. And that was like, I was like, "Ms. Murphy," and I came in, and I was like, "Ms. Murphy," and I came in, I think it was the living room or something. And yeah it was in - I came into the kitchen, and that was like, when you weren't in there, I went up to the second floor, like the landing, I was like, "Ms. Murphy." "I'm up here, come up here." And I came up to the landing, and I went to go up to the upstairs, I opened up the door, and I was like, "Ms. Murphy?" And you were like, "Come on up," and I was like, holy shit. I was like, wait a minute, and then, I started to come up the steps. And then I felt like a weird feeling, and I was like, "Ms. Murphy," and then you didn't say anything. And I was like, what the hell? And I was like, "Ms. Murphy," and then you didn't say anything again. So I was like, I went back downstairs, and then you were coming in the front door. I was like what the - oh, shit, man. That scared the shit out of me after that.

CLARA: I had the opposite experience.

SEAN: With your brother, though.

CLARA: With Jeff.

JOE: Did you?

CLARA: I mean, it wasn't Jeff, though.

JOE: Yeah, oh, yeah?

CLARA: Jeff saying, "Mrs. Murphy," and I was like, "Come on in." "Mrs. Murphy," "Come on in Jeff." And then coming up the step, and then I realized somebody was coming up the steps.

JOE: Shit.

CLARA: I went screaming out of the house that time.

JOE: Shit. Yeah.

SEAN: So in other words, you communicated with it, was you heard a voice, you actually heard it imitate my mother's voice.

JOE: Oh, yeah, yeah. I just thought it was her. I almost went all the way up there. I don't know what would have happened if I went all the way up there. But I was like, that was very - I knew about shit like that so I didn't - I didn't mess around.

SEAN: Now, at this point, did you mention that story to John?

JOE: Yeah, I told that to John, too. Yeah, I've told him about that one. There's a few stories I don't know if you want me to even tell.

SEAN: Oh, yeah, tell us all the stories you have.  I know you wrote - you've had some health issues, but before you had the health issues, you wrote down - you made a list of -

JOE: Memories.

SEAN: Yeah. Feel free to read, we'll ask you questions.

JOE: There's the one that's the drummer. I call it the drummer because I know Ms. Murphy remembers this, when we were sitting there about 4:00 o'clock in the morning and then someone started drumming on John's door like they had a drum set. It was like [mimics drum roll] and then you were like, Natalie stop it. And she's like, it's not me! And it was like, going to stop finally, and everybody just stood there like, what the hell do we do? And nobody did anything. Like, somebody opened the door to look out, and nobody was there. And I don't know if you remember that or not, Ms. Murphy.

CLARA: That, more than once.

SEAN: Yeah, that happened with me and that happened at other times. You know, John in his interview, I don't know if you saw it, said that that happened, you know, a few times. He said it could be quite terrifying.

CLARA: Yes, that was terrifying.

JOE: I was in the room, I had a few friends in the room, they were all like, what the hell's going on? It was like, it was drumming so fast, it was more than humanly possible.

CLARA: Did you ever actually see anything?

JOE: No, just heard it on the other side.

CLARA: No -

SEAN: No, not then, bit in general?

JOE: Hm. That's hard to say. Did I see anything...

SEAN: Well, you saw that, you know... You never saw, like, shadows or anything?

SEAN: Or red eyes or...

JOE: I can't remember.

CLARA: Yeah.



SEAN: Well, continue down your list, the list of things you have.

JOE: Okay. Yeah. When that was - the weight bar, I mean the weight bar was thrown from all the way across the room into the door, which is impossible. It had 150, 250 pounds on it. And I mean, I know it was impossible for you to pick that bar up, take it over the waterbed and then put it against the door. We couldn't get in the door. We couldn't get in the door and nobody could get in the door. Finally Scott Sims -

CLARA: Was that who went out on the roof and went in?

JOE: Yeah, Scott --- went out on the roof and went around and finally moved the weight bar out of the way so we could get in the door. And we got in the door and we were like, what the hell?

CLARA: Was that when - did you hear it from downstairs?

JOE: Yeah, we heard this big boom boom boom boom boom boom boom. And I'm like, what the hell? We went to try to get in the room, we couldn't get in the room. I mean, we had Jeff, we had everybody. I almost broke the door off the hinges. It wouldn't. I mean it had a weight bar against it.

CLARA: It was solid. Those - they were solid wood doors.

SEAN: Yeah.

JOE: Not only that, it had that weight bar.

CLARA: Yeah, that weight.

JOE: That weight on it and everything. It was not going. It was pinned - the weight bar was pinned against the water bed. It was not going anywhere.

SEAN: So what was the impression of that? What did people think? Did that lead to a discussion about other events or anything that was going on there?

JOE: Yeah, well, it probably did. I mean, I can't really remember.

SEAN: Yeah. But this was stuff that was witnessed by many people. This is not stuff that's been happening to you, generally speaking, while you were alone there. This was, you know as you said, Scott was there, Jeff was there, John was there. I believe my father was there on the first floor as well?

CLARA: I was there, too. I was there.

SEAN: You were there for that event?

CLARA: I was home when that happened, yeah.

JOE: Man, there was only one apparition thing I can think of, but I don't know if I really remember it or saw it.

SEAN: What are you thinking, then?

JOE: I was coming up the top of the steps, like the step on the landing, the first landing. I was going to go up the next steps and I saw what looked like a shadow figure and it just real ran into your father's room. He wasn't alive anymore. But it was just, like, tall. It was just real quickly. I thought I saw it. I don't even know if I saw it. I mean it was so quick. It was there for a second, it stood there for a second, and it went, shoom.

SEAN: Was it a human shape or more like a -

JOE: Yeah.

SEAN: It was a human shape?

JOE: Yup.

SEAN: Now, here's a question. Would you say that it was male or female, or you couldn't tell?

JOE: Male.

SEAN: Okay.

JOE: It had on, like, an old style dress.

SEAN: Did it have a face?

JOE: Nah, I couldn't see any face. It was all black.

CLARA: There you go. That's it. Everybody's seen that one.

JOE: That's great. That's just out of the blue. I didn't think I saw anything, really.

SEAN: So what other stories do you have? It's good to hear that. You see, I'm looking at this the way somebody would be studying a new species of ants. I'm trying to get everyone's opinion, trying to gauge what everyone saw, what characteristics it had, what it looked like, how it manifested itself, so I'm glad you shared that with us. So I know you have more items on your list.

JOE: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that's the thing that John Murphy - that's the thing, this is the thing about John. John's incident. I don't know if he told you about it because he didn't want - he didn't like what happened. He said he looked up and there was a rotting corpse in his chair, in a chair. I don't know if he hold you about that.

SEAN: No.

JOE: I doubt he did. He woke up and there was a rotting corpse in his chair and he ran out of the house, and he wouldn't stay in the house for a few days, or he wouldn't stay downstairs for a few days.

SEAN: Was this in the second floor bedroom or the basement?

JOE: The basement. He was in the bedroom in the basement.

SEAN: I think he did - he did mention that, but then he said he felt it was just - later he thought it was an hallucination.

JOE: No, no, because the thing is, because he even said he smelled rotten meat. And then one week - like three days later, and then like five days later, we came over and we smelled more than rotten meat. It smelled like decay and death.

CLARA: I hated that basement.

SEAN: Yeah.

CLARA: That bedroom, I could never even go into.

SEAN: It was too dark with that - there was little -

CLARA: It just was - it gave me the creeps, just going near that room. The basement, I felt very uncomfortable, after Mark*** fixed it and all. Sometimes when there was a real bad storm and Ginger was afraid, we would go down into the basement, and I couldn't stand it. I just could not stand being - I always - it was like something was always looking at me there. And I wouldn't go near that bedroom.

JOE: Yeah, I don't think John ever spent another night in there.

CLARA: I don't think Mark ever slept in there much. I mean, Mark built it as a bedroom, but I think he told me one time he couldn't sleep in there.

JOE: Yeah, well, it smelled bad down there for a long time. At least a week or two. But yeah, I don't think he ever mentioned that.

SEAN: Yeah, he did bring that up. But what's the next one?

JOE: Another one I know he didn't mention because I don't think he even saw it or I even told him about it or told anybody about it because it was embarrassing kind of. But it was Mark. We went out - we were having a party out front like we would. You know, we used to have those parties out front, out on the porch, and everybody would be on the porch having a party, and we decided we wanted to go out into the garage into the '44 Dodge and smoke some weed. So we were, like, six of us or seven of us, go back there, and as soon as we get back there, we get halfway back there and we see Mark is naked and he's digging in the dirt with a knife. We're like, what the fuck? And I was like, everybody back up. I was like, holy shit. And everybody, like, turned around, and like, holy shit, we don't want to see this, you know what I mean? This guy, we're all young, like 17, 20, 19 or 18.

CLARA: Mark did do that.

SEAN: Yeah.

Mark Brendan Murphy

JOE: So he was digging in the dirt or mud, whatever. So later on we were upstairs in the house, and Jeff went downstairs, Jeff decided to go downstairs for some reason to check on Mark. And then I - he went downstairs, but he didn't go all the way in, and I went in and I looked in the room to see him, and he had all the lights off except for one light, one light that was - he had a linoleum floor all covered in dirt except for one little round spot that was clean, and then he was in the middle of the round spot and the light was shining down on the round spot, perfectly covering - perfectly covering the spot, and he was in the middle of the spot praying to something. So I ain't never told anybody that.

SEAN: Now, what - do you remember any of the words he was using?

JOE: No, he never said any words. He just had his hands together. I don't know if he was talking to God, I don't know if he was talking to something else. But I said to my brother, I said, "Come here for a second," and he was like, "What?" And I said "Come here," and he came and he looked and he was like, "Oh, my God." And then when he turned around, there were other people trying to come down the steps, and we were like, we turned them all around, we're like, "No, get upstairs, get upstairs, get upstairs." We wouldn't let anybody else come downstairs to see that shit. But that's something I've never - that's something I haven't told many people.

SEAN: I'm not surprised to hear that.

JOE: I haven't told many people that one.

SEAN: Well, this is the first time we've heard that, right?

CLARA: Well, I know that Mark was outside nude a couple times because I know Art took him in his house already when he was like that.

SEAN: Yeah, plus when he was living up by the field, up by Grandma Murphy's, he used to go onto the field nude, too, when he was living with Beth.

CLARA: Mental problem.

SEAN: Yeah.

JOE: I don't know. I mean, he might have been -

SEAN: I'll make note of that in the transcript.

JOE: Praying to God, you know what I mean, because he was into both. I mean, he wasn't into both, he was - he was just fighting demons, you know? So he might have been praying to God at that point. You know, that might have been it. Trying to get salvation. You know what I mean?

CLARA: Yeah. So did your ever have any talks to Mark - with Mark about this? Not that specific instance, but something in the house? Did you ever talk to Mark about that?

JOE: Hell, no. I didn't want to know when I saw that. I mean, I was afraid he might strangle - try to strangle or kill me.

SEAN: Yeah, someone digging into the dirt with a knife like that, I could see how that would be frightening and sort of ruin the buzz.

JOE: Well, not that part, but the part with just seeing him doing that, him sitting there on his knees, naked in a kind of circle that he made, and the rest is all dirt. That was freaky as shit.

SEAN: Yeah, I could imagine.

CLARA: Well, it was good of you to turn everybody around.

SEAN: Yeah.

CLARA: That was a good thing you did, Joe.

SEAN: So tell us what else happened.

JOE: Scott Sims, oh, man. He went in there alone the one time, and he was like, "I'm not afraid." And all the light were off.

SEAN: Well, set this up. You guys were at Scott's house or something and you came back and all the light were out?

JOE: Yeah, we came back and all the lights were out.

SEAN: I just want to make a note. You know, I told you I didn't want to hear the stories until we were recording them, but you told me this story when we talked a little while ago, that, you know, all the lights were out, and John had previously said, you know, he didn't like going in the house when all the lights were out. So you guys went in through the kitchen or whatever. You start at the beginning.

JOE: Yeah, well, at the beginning, we were down at Scott's new apartment. Somebody actually rented him an apartment. There were beer cans, there were beer bottles on every - if you took a table, you put a beer bottle on every part of the table, and then he went to put another beer bottle on there, and another one fell off the other side. You couldn't fit anymore on, you know what I'm saying?

SEAN: Yeah.

JOE: You couldn't - everywhere you went to put another beer bottle, another one would fall off. That's how many beer bottles were on the table, okay? And Jason got mad at Scott, picked him up and slammed him on the beer bottles. I've never seen anything like it. It must have hurt very bad, and all the beer bottles went everywhere. Half of them were half full, half of them had cigarette butts and all kinds of stuff in them. It was - everything went everywhere. I mean, we all got out of there immediately. Scott and everybody came up there and we all went to John's house.

And we went - when we left John's house, a lot of the lights were on, and when we came there, all of the lights were off. We were like, what the hell? And Scott - and we were like, "Man, I ain't going in there. I'm not going." And Scott is like, "Oh, I'll do it. I'm not afraid. I'll turn all the lights on." And he went in there, and then we were like, "Go ahead in, go ahead in. Turn on the main, turn on the kitchen light, and then turn on that light." And then he went in, he went into the kitchen and turned on the light, and he immediately came running out and he said - he came running out, he's like, "I'm not going back in there." We're like, "What's in there, what's in there?" He's like, "There's something in the kitchen, there's something in the kitchen." He's like, "There's something big. It's a monster, it's a beast." We were like, "What?" I was like, "Bullshit." We all went in there and we didn't see anything. But he was scared as hell. After that, he was like, he was just dead scared, man. He said he saw, like, a - it was just like a human. It was like a beast. I mean, like a damn beast you see in a cartoon, that's what he said. He said it was like a monster. But it was all black.

SEAN: All black. But you said once you went in there, you and your brother and all, and you heard a door slam up on the third floor, footsteps coming down the steps, then down the steps to the landing....

JOE: I forgot about that.

SEAN: Okay.

JOE: That was what made us run down to Scott's house in the first place. Is we came in there, and yeah, the lights were on, but we heard this boom upstairs, and then we heard this [mimics pounding] and something was running down the stairs, and everybody just started - we were like - everybody just started fighting for each other - fighting over each other to get to the door first. It was like funny as shit. It was like Laurel and Hardy. It was like, everybody was pushing each other out of the way to get to the front door. It was like, get out of my way. Finally we got out of the front door without the thing getting to us. But that's when we ran down and went to  Jason, he was walking up the street or something, but he wasn't there when that happened. Because he would have never made it down the stairs. He was too fat, but it would have killed him.

SEAN: So how far did it come down the stairs, from the third floor? Did it get to the landing?

JOE: I think it got all the way to the front door. I don't know, man. It was like it slammed the front door on us or something. I was scared as shit, man. I was like, I think it slammed the front door on us, slammed it shut on us. I'm not sure. It was like, get the fuck out.

SEAN: So then you brought Scott up and he went in and turned on the lights and saw something in the kitchen on the first floor.

JOE: That was because we had already been - we had been drinking for a while. We'd been drinking for, like, four hours and were like, oh, yeah, we ain't scared of shit. We were drunk, we were drinking, we'll go in there, we'll fight this damn thing. And then Scott's like, yeah. And when we got there, all the lights were off, and we were like, oh, shit, fuck this. Screw that. I'm not doing it. And Scott's like, "I'll go in there." He was drunker than everybody, of course. He comes running out, "Ah! There's a super beast in there? Holy shit, man!" And I think he said it had red eyes. I wish I could call him. You need to get a hold of -

SEAN: So any other tales?

JOE: Um, let's see. Let's see. I played in the computer room.

CLARA: Did anything ever happen when you were in John's room, like, playing on the computer?

JOE: Well, yeah, there was a lot of things, but it's hard for me to remember because I didn't write them down. I've had these seizures. They might come back to me, but shoo. Man, there used to be, like - used to be pings that would be on the floor. Different things moved in different places. Like, your drink would be in one spot, and then next thing you know, it's in another spot. It was just, you know, there was some crazy stuff that happened. But it could have just been that, I mean, that I forgot I put it there. Just a lot of weird feelings, too. Especially at nighttime. I mean, a lot of times at night, waking up and just like - and especially going to the bathroom at night. Oh, my gosh, and going to that second floor bathroom. And you always come out, and you know you closed the door to the upstairs, you know you closed it because you don't want anything coming out of that damn upstairs, and you know you closed it and it's open. When you go to the bathroom. I mean, sometimes you go to the bathroom, come out and you closed it on the way in to the bathroom, come out and it's open again. And you're like, oh, my gosh. And you just wrote it off. You're just like, yup, this bitch is haunted as a son of a bitch. I would just close it again and go back to sleep.

SEAN: So did it speak to you at any other time than the time it used, you know, my mother's voice? Do you remember ever hearing it speak again?

JOE: I'm going to have to think. I could have swore it spoke to me in Mark's voice, but I can't think to it. I can't remember.

CLARA: It may have. It was good at imitating voices.

JOE: Yeah.

CLARA: I think it knew everybody's name.

SEAN: Did it speak to you - I know you're trying to remember, but did it speak to you in Mark's voice, do you think, while Mark was alive or after he had died?

JOE: It would be while he was alive.

SEAN: Oh, yeah, it always spoke in people's voices while they were alive. Never took a dead person's voice.

CLARA: No, no.

JOE: I don't remember him ever speaking when he was dead. But yeah, that's - that's crazy, man. I don't know, I'll have to try and remember some more stuff. But that's all I got written down.

SEAN: Okay. Well, that was all very helpful. So there's a few points I want to ask in conclusion. What do you think it was in that house?

JOE: What do I think it was?

SEAN: Yeah.

JOE: It was a demon. Somebody summoned a demon. That's all. To me, that's all it is, is it wants to hurt people.

CLARA: Do you think it was more than one thing?

JOE: It wants to make their life, I mean, hell, if you let it.

CLARA: Do you think there was more than one thing in there? A demon and something else, or just a demon, or more than one demon?

SEAN: Or more than one demon? How many entities were in the house?

JOE: How many entities?

SEAN: Yeah, do you think there was more than one?

JOE: I just think it was one. I think it was one that traveled around. One that traveled - I mean, traveled around to a few different houses. A few other people probably had problems and they just don't say anything.

CLARA: Why do you think it traveled around?

JOE: It just seems like it did. I mean, I don't know.

CLARA: No, impressions are, you know...

SEAN: I mean, did you feel some days it was there and some days it wasn't there?

JOE: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that's definitely, definitely.

CLARA: Did it seem to you like sometimes it was more active than others?

JOE: Yeah. Like, I didn't -

CLARA: Sometimes it was more active than others and then nothing for a while?

JOE: Yeah. I didn't have a problem in the computer room up there, I mean hardly, except for the little creepy feelings, and I didn't have a problem down in the basement with the poop and the dog. I mean, with whatever his name was.

CLARA: Alex.

Alex

JOE: Alex, yeah. Then he finally fixed the basement up, but he fixed it up really nice, but I don't know what the hell.

CLARA: But it was always creepy in the bathroom.

JOE: Yeah. Shit, in which bathroom?

CLARA: The second floor.

SEAN: Second floor.

JOE: Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. That was bad.

CLARA: That bathroom was always creepy.

JOE: I don't think I ever even took a shower in there. Ever, ever, ever.

SEAN: And funny, it stayed creepy even after you, like, remodeled it.

CLARA: Right.

SEAN: It isn't like remodeling it, you know, made it uncomfortable, made it leave.

CLARA: No.

SEAN: You know, so. Yeah, the bathroom, that bathroom closet.

CLARA: Everybody agreed.

JOE: I heard that somebody got killed after they moved in, or after you moved, something about the garage door fell down on them.

SEAN: I never heard anything like that. I think the people who moved in after us, one of them had health issues, but they didn't die.

JOE: Oh.

SEAN: There's some things that are interesting about the people who moved in after, but I'm still investigating that now. I think the next one of these I do is going to answer some of those questions, after I talk to you. But I wanted to talk to you first, because I think in the late '90s through the early 2000s, you certainly spent more time in that house than I did. And also it spoke to you and it never spoke to me in an audible voice.

JOE: Yeah, yeah.

SEAN: It communicated with me, but it never spoke to me.

JOE: Yeah, right. I never - these damn seizures, luckily I wrote all that down. I mean, because I would have forgotten most of it. I just happened to have ideas. Like, let me write this down just in case, just as a - I mean I might have lost a few things, but they'll probably come back to me.

CLARA: Good seeing you, Joe.

SEAN: Good seeing you, Joe. We're hoping you're feeling better.

CLARA: I hope you do. I hope you get better.

Joe Today

Here's another clip from the interview:

 

Notes:

*21 St. Helens Avenue was the original address of the house when it was built. The street name and number changed over time, but I use the original address to protect the privacy of the current owners.


***Mark Brendan Murphy -- my brother who took his own life in 1999.

Additional blogs about the haunting:
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 1, An Introduction
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 2, The House
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 3, This Is Us
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 4, Arrival
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 5, Methodology
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 6, Clara's Tale, Pt. 1
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 7, Clara's Tale, Pt. 2
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 8, My Tale, Pt. 1
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 9, My Tale, Pt. 2
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 10, My Tale, Pt. 3
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 11, Natalia's Tale, Pt. 1
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 12, Natalia's Tale, Pt. 2
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 13, John's Tale, Pt. 1 
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 14, John's Tale, Pt. 2
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 15, Come Inside!
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 16, Marion's Tale, Pt. 1
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 17, Marion's Tale, Pt. 2
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 18, Jeanne's Tale, Pt. 1
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 19, Jeanne's Tale, Pt. 2
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 20, Lisa's Tale
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 21, Recap, Pt. 1
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 22, Recap, Pt. 2
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 23, Recap, Pt. 3

My novel Chapel Street was inspired by the haunting. You can currently buy the Kindle and paperback at Amazon and the Nook, paperback and hardcover at Barnes & Noble.


Learn more about the book, click Here.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Yippee-Ki-Yay Mother Podcast #114: Notting Hill

Here's another exciting COVID-free ZOOM edition of the Yippee-Ki-Yay Mother Podcast, a lively discussion of the movies that sometimes devolves into a group therapy session. 

Mother Podcaster Debbie, who doubles as my lovely wife, brought her favorite rom/com to the table this week: 1999's Notting Hill starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. Will this be too sentimental choice for the rest of the gang? Or will we all succumb to Ms. Robert's charms? Watch and find out.

Here's the trailer for film:

          

Here's the podcast on YouTube:

      

Our Podcast is available on iTunes: Yippee Ki Yay Mother Podcast
Subscribe to our YouTube page: Yippee Ki Yay Mother Podcast
Check out our webpage: Yippee-Ki-Yay Mother Podcast

Like us on Facebook: Yippee-Ki-Yay Mother Podcast.
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Other Episodes:
1. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)2. Marathon Man3. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three4. Hellraiser5. Cinema Paradiso6. The Night Watchmen with actor/producer Ken Arnold7. Black Dynamite with producer Matt Richards8. The Spanish Prisoner9. Special: Presidents Day LaserDisc Hunt10. Natural Born Killers11. Slap Shot12. mother!13. Ladies' Choice14. That Thing You Do! with one hit wonder Lee Bonner15. Body Heat16. Three Days of the Condor17. Martyrs18. Beautiful Boy19. The Princess Bride20. Miracle Mile with Casting Director Billy DaMota21. Waterworld22. Smokey and the Bandit23. The Thing From Another World24. The Hudsucker Proxy25. Goldfinger26. Superman27. LA Confidential28. Little Miss Sunshine29. UHF30. The Witch31. The Haunting (1963)32. Mad Max: Fury Road33. The Counselor34. Raiders of the Lost Ark35. The French Connection36. The 33 with Lou Diamond Phillips37. Round Robin: Mise En Scene II38. Run Lola Run39. Young Frankenstein40. Mud41. The Spitfire Grill42. This Is Spinal Tap43. Singin' In The Rain44. The Hospital45. Klute46. Be Kind Rewind47. Round Robin: Halloween Films48. The Descent49. The Commitments50. Galaxy Quest51. Phantasm52. The Bride of Frankenstein53. Arlington Road54. Round Robin: Holiday Films55. A Christmas Carol (1951)56. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation57. Western Showdown58. Sports Films Showdown59. Buddy Films Showdown60. Vampire Films Showdown61. Wind River62. 3 Day Weekend with filmmakers Wyatt McDill and Megan Huber63. The Shawshank Redemption64. Donnie Brasco with former Mafia associate Kenji Gallo65. Promising Young Woman66. My Favorite Year67. Fletch68. A Hard Day's Night69. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood70. Round Robin: Movie Biographies71. Round Robin: SNL Cast Films72. Working Girl73. Fatal Attraction74. Round Robin: Gangster Films75. Round Robin: Teen Comedies76. Round Robin: Time Travel Films77. Barcelona78. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb79. Nightcrawler80. Wings Of Desire81. The Sting82. Thief83. Round Robin: Scary Movies84. Forbidden Planet85. Friday the 13th Part 5 A New Beginning with star John Shepherd86. Round Robin: Nicolas Cage Films87. Round Robin: Christmas Recommendations 202188. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot89. A Face In The Crowd90. Stir Crazy91. Any Given Sunday with KC Chief Eric Hicks92. Cool Runnings93. Soylent Green94. Ladies Choice 295. Special Oscar Edition: The Power of the Dog,  96. Round Robin: World War II Films97. Round Robin: Biblical Epics98. Born Yesterday,  99. The Vanishing (Spoorloos)100. Airplane!101. Ready Or Not102. They Call Me Trinity103. Streets of Fire104. Round Robin: 1980s Action Films105. Round Robin: Based on a True Story106. What Are We Watching?107. Guilty Pleasures108. Taxi Driver with LA Times Reviewer Gary Goldstein109. The Ninth Configuration110. Chungking Express111. The Maltese Falcon112. Bad Day At Black Rock113. The Green Knight114. Notting Hill115. Citizen Kane


My novel Chapel Street is now available! You can currently buy the Kindle and paperback at Amazon and the Nook, paperback and hardcover at Barnes & Noble.


Learn more about the book, click Here.

Watch the book trailer:

  

Listen to me read some chapters here:

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Grave Tales #28: Henry Nicholas John Gunther



I am an avid genealogist. The past is very important to me. I spend a lot of time in cemeteries photographing tombstones to upload on website the FindAGrave.

I enjoy recognizing long dead people by putting memorials to them online. However, every once and a while something grabs me about a specific grave. It could be the name, or the dates or a ceramic photo. In those cases, I feel compelled to dig a little deeper. That's what this series of blogs is about: The tales behind those graves. Some of my subjects will be heroes. Some will be villains. Some will be victims. And some will linger in between, like most of us. However, don't be surprised if the tales are inherently tragic. These are grave tales. They all end in death.

Over sixty million soldiers fought during World War I. Over nine million of them were killed. That's over six thousand soldiers a day. I don't know the name of the first person to die during that conflict, but I know the name of the last one: Henry Nicholas John Gunther. He was an American soldier from Baltimore and he's buried in Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery . Here's his story.

The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 11 February 1919, Tues:



Mother Breaks Down Reading Of Son's Heroism In France
-----
Sergt. Henry N. Gunther Was Killed One
Minute Before Armistice Took Effect.
-----
PARENT WOULD GO TO EUROPE
TO BRING SON'S BODY BACK
-----
Chaplain Who Gave Account of Death Also
Has Message For Soldier's Sweetheart.

     Overwhelmed with mingled grief and pride in the bravery of her son, Mrs. George Gunther, 3011 Eastern avenue, mother of Sergt. Henry N. Gunther, who was killed one minute before 11 o'clock on the day the armistice was signed, completely broke down this morning when she read in The Sun the story of his heroism as described by First Lieutenant (Rev.) George F. Jonaitis,* the chaplain of the three Hundred and Thirteenth Infantry, who just reached Newport News.
     "Henry was one of the first to go and the last to be killed," said his mother sadly. "He was one of the best boys that ever lived and never gave me one moment's worry. Everybody loved him for his gentle ways and kindliness, and nothing was ever too much trouble for him to do to help a person. He was the life of the house."

Has Message For Sweetheart.

     The sweetheart for whom Father Jonaitis says he has a message from Sergeant Gunther, is Miss Olga Gruebl, of 3001 Eastern avenue, whom the soldier was to have married on June 6, 1918, his twenty-second birthday. They had been engaged for several years, but their extreme youth made them feel that it would be better to wait awhile. Their plans were all made for the wedding and their future home when the war broke out, and the draft came along, and the wedding was postponed until after the conflict.
     Young Gunther was among the first Baltimoreans to go to Camp Meade, where he was made sergeant several days after his arrival because of his previous military training at Plattsburg, where he spent some time in the hospital unit organized by Dr. W. Moore in 1916. Sergeant Gunther was also the organizer and leader of about 85 cadets of Sacred Heart parish, to which he belonged.

Interested In Little Boys.

     "He was so interested in those little boys," said his mother, smiling through her tears as she recalled the little incidents of his life, now so sacred in her eyes. "I remember how he gave me his uniform he wore when he trained them and told me to pack it away so that it would be clean and fresh for him when he returned after the war. He never seemed to think that he would be killed. In his last letter, dated November 3, he said he had come through all the severe fighting with the Three Hundred and Thirteenth with only a little scratch on his arm and thought that the war would soon be over. And to think that one minute more and his life would have been saved."

Ambitious To Study.

     And then the little mother went on to tell how her son used to come home in the evening from work and was so ambitious to study that he was taking night courses in accountancy, and had written to his sweetheart to send him some of his school books, so that he could study between times "over there"; of how he was willing to give up every cent of his earnings to his family if they needed it, and of how he was praised by his employers, who said that he was one of the most reliable and thrifty boys they had ever had.
     "He was always so thoughtful of the happiness of others," she said. "Only the last time he came home from Camp Meade over the week-end he went far out of his route to take an old woman home who had lost her way on the street."
     Sergeant Gunther was one of 15 fellow church members of Sacred Heart Church, of which Father Doneher is rector, who have fallen in active service. Nearly three hundred members were drafted from the parish. Several weeks ago a memorial service was held for those who had been killed and a service flag with 15 gold stars, each lighted with an electric bulb, was raised in their memory.

Want To Hear Story Of Heroism.

     Mr. and Mrs. Gunther and Miss Gruebl have lost no time in sending special delivery letters. They are very eager to see him in hear from his own lips the story of Sergeant Gunther's death. Mrs. Gunther wishes also, if possible, to have his body brought home for burial, and declares that if necessary she will make the journey herself to bring the remains back.
     Previous to entering the army, Sergeant Gunther was employed at the National Bank of Baltimore, Baltimore and St. Paul streets. 

A nice story. It really gave us a sense of who Henry Gunther was in civilian life. He seemed to be a kind and generous man. Your heart definitely goes out to his family and his sweetheart Olga.

The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 12 February 1919, Wed:

The newspaper ran this photo of Olga Gruebl the next day.


Olga Gruebl would never marry. She would die on 8 November 1964, just three days short of the forty-sixth anniversary of the death of her beloved Henry. Here's her death notice:


She is buried in the same cemetery as Henry.

The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 17 Feb 1919, Mon:

Henry's mother wrote a heartfelt letter to the editor on behalf of all grieving mothers asking that the bodies of their sons be returned to the United States.

The next story relates what Chaplain Jonaitis told Henry's family when he was finally able to meet with him. It is a very touching and detailed account.

The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 04 March 1919, Tue:



Chaplain Tells Hero's Fiancee Of His End
Parents Of Last Baltimorean To Fall Hear Story of Death
-----
Sergt. Henry Gunther Killed One Minute Before Fighting Stopped
On November 11 -- Priest Describes Bravery And Loyalty to
Uttermost To Invalid Father, Tearful Mother And Sad Sweetheart
--Chaplain Of Regiment Now Stopping At Emerson
-----

     In their home at 3011 Eastern Avenue the parents of Sergeant Henry Gunter with his sweetheart, Miss Olga Gruebl, 3001 Eastern avenue, yesterday afternoon heard the story of the sergeant's death in the Argonne woods, one minute before the fighting stopped at 11 o'clock on the morning of November 11, and of the burial of the body on the spot where he died. They heard the story from the lips of Lieut. (the Rev.) George F. Jonaitis, who succeeded Lieut. (the Rev.) J. Carroll Moore as Catholic chaplain of the Three Hundred and Thirteenth Infantry.
     The priest arrived in Baltimore from Newport News yesterday afternoon, and a short time afterwards went to the Gunther home. The Gunthers had been notified of the coming of the priest and when he alighted from a street car in front of the home, Mrs. Gunther, a motherly little woman with her hair streaked with gray, caused by worry over her boy's death, was awaiting him on the front steps.
     Shaking from nervousness and crying pathetically, Mrs. Gunther rushed toward Father Jonaitis and took both of his hands in her frail and wrinkled palms. Looking at the chaplain with eyes blurred with tears she asked:

Mother's First Question.

     "Father, did my Henry send his love to me as he was dying?"
     The big priest, who faced all sorts of dangers from Chateau Thierry to the Argonne woods, without even as much as a wee flinch, himself became unnerved and was forced to cover his eyes with his hand to keep the little woman from seeing that he also had moist eyes.
     As the mother and the priest who helped dig her son's grave and bury him after reciting the burial service, walked hand-in-hand into the house, Mrs. Gunther, apologizing, asked the chaplain if he would excuse her for asking him to tell his story in the kitchen so that her invalid husband, who is forced to spend his days there, might hear the story with her. Mr. Gunter a few days before Henry sailed for France suffered from a growth on his left leg. He underwent an unsuccessful operation. His leg is now stiff and, because of the pain, he is practically bedridden.

His Fiancee Joins Hero's Parents.

      After greeting the father of the dead sergeant, Father Jonaitis was about to tell them of the death of Henry when Miss Gruebl came into the kitchen. The fiancee of the Baltimore hero smiled as she grasped the hand of the priest, but that smile and the story it told unnerved Father Jonaitis, as much as had the tears of Mr. and Mrs. Gunther.
     Miss Gruebl was sitting between the parents of Henry, directly in front of Father Jonaitis, while the priest told how Gunther died in the Argonne forest. His little audience did not interrupt with questions. But they did frequently grasp each other's hands and they did not attempt to hide their emotion as Father Jonaitis repeatedly said Henry was a brave man, the bravest he had ever seen, and that he lived such a life in France as fully to prepare him to meet his Maker.
     The priest told the story of the death and burial of Sergt. Henry Gunther, of Baltimore, in low-pitched tones. Sad and eager faces watched him. He had to stop frequently. He did not want them to see that he also was crying. But they did see it. Though their hearts were breaking with sorrow, they pitied the chaplain. They said so.

Gunter Happy At Prospect Of Home.

     Father Jonaitis told the parents and sweetheart of the 23-year-old hero that Henry was one of the happiest of the men in the Three Hundred and Thirteenth Infantry at 10:30 o'clock in the morning of November 11, when the message was sent down the line to stop fighting at 11 o'clock. He said he heard Sergeant Gunther say:
     "Oh, Gee! I am glad this hell is nearly over. I am soon going home."
     Three minutes before 11 o'clock Sergeant Gunther was ordered to take a platoon of men over and get a nest of German machine gunners. Gunther knew it was nearly stopping time and was aware of the dangerous task before him, but the priest said that the Sergeant, calling to the other men to follow, gripped his gun tightly in both his hands and went to his death with a smile on his face.

Germans Wave To Them To Go Back

     He repeated to them the story of how the Germans waved to Sergeant Gunther and his men to go back as the time was nearly up. But Gunther had not gone to France to take orders from the Germans. His commanders had told him to get that German nest and he was trying his best to obey orders. He said Gunther had almost reached the nest and was raising his gun to fire, when three German bullets stopped him. One of the bullets pierced the hero's head; the other passed through a batch of letters -- some from his mother and Miss Gruebl and others which he had written to them saying that he was coming home soon -- and through a prayer book, into his heart; the third bullet went into his right wrist. The priest described the prayer book and Miss Gruebl said it was a present from her just before Henry sailed for France.
     Immediately after Henry fell, Father Jonaitis said, the Germans leaped from their trench and, placing the Baltimore hero on a stretcher, carried him over to his comrades in Company A of the Three Hundred and Thirteenth, who had forgotten their joy in the ending of hostilities. He said the other boys in the company loved Henry Gunther and his death took all the joy at the signing of the armistice out of them for that day.

Describes Young Man's Burial.

     The priest then told how he and the friends of Henry carefully wrapped his body in two blankets and carried it to a grave they had dug. After the body was covered, he told the parents and sweetheart, how he and the men of the company placed a mound of stones over the grave and then planted daises they had gathered from a nearby field. After making a cross which they placed at the head of the grave with the name of Sergeant Gunther written on it, as well as a short account telling that he was the last American to die in the fight. Father Jonaitis said they placed four wooden posts at each corner of the grave, around which they strung a fence of wire.
     When the priest finished the story no one in the room spoke for fully five minutes. All were going over in their minds the death and burial of the young hero.
     Mr. Gunther was the first to break the silence when he asked with great eagerness if his son was prepared to meet his God. Before the priest could answer, Mr. Gunther, joined by his wife and Miss Gruebl, said Henry was an ideal son when he was home and led an exemplary life.
     When Father Jonaitis told them that Henry while in France led just as good and probably even a better life than he did in Baltimore and that he was certain of Henry's salvation, the parents and Miss Gruebl together, with their hands raised to Heaven, exclaimed: "Thank God, we have given a saint to God and a hero to our country."

Hope To Bring Body To Baltimore

     The chaplain then described the exact location of the grave. He wrote out the location for the little group, and each of them said they will plan at once to have the body brought back to Baltimore for burial. Little Mother Gunther said she wanted to go over there herself and bring back her boy's body, but her husband's condition will not permit her leaving him. She said, however, that if she cannot have the remains brought back by the Government, despite her frail health, she will go over to France after it.
     Father Jonaitis, before burying Sergeant Gunther, removed his wrist watch. In his excitement yesterday the priest forgot the watch. He will give it to them this afternoon.
     During his last visit to Baltimore before going "Over There," Sergeant Gunther purchased several religious pictures now hanging on the walls in the kitchen and dining-room of his home. His parents are proud of those pictures. They are still where Henry placed them. Despite the terrible pain he was suffering Mr. Gunther hobbled about the two rooms yesterday and pointed out with his cane to Chaplain Jonaitis the pictures which Henry had hung on the walls.
     Father Jonaitis said he will be delighted to meet any of the parents of the boys in the Three Hundred and Thirteenth. Probably, he said, he will remember something about the deeds of their sons. He is a guest at the Hotel Emerson.

Wow. What a great and compelling story. Despite the run-on sentences, the unnamed reporter really put you in the room with all of the heart and emotion. However, the story raises some serious questions.  I think the Letter to the Editor below does an excellent job of articulating them:

The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 07 March 1919, Fri:

Thanks, C.A.W.  Why indeed was Gunther ordered over the top in the waning minutes of the war? It does seem outright criminal. The next story gives us more details regarding Henry's death. It doesn't contradict Father Jonaitis' story, but puts the events in a different context....

The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 16 March 1919, Sun:


DIED TO PROVE LOYALTY
------
Henry N. Gunther Felt He Was Under A Cloud
-----
PROBABLY LAST MAN KILLED
-----
Went Alone To Capture Machine Gun Nest
In The Last Minute Of War.

     This account of how Henry N. Gunther, 3011 Eastern avenue, was killed almost at the moment the "cease firing order" was given, is by Private James M. Cain, Headquarters Troop, Seventy-ninth Division, in France, who was formerly a reporter on The Sun. It corresponds in all essentials with the report brought to Gunther's parents by Chaplain George F. Jonaitis, but gives some details that Father Jonaitis probably did not know of.
-----
By Private James M. Cain.

     Souilly, France (By Mail), Feb 22. -- The last man to be killed in action in the Seventy-ninth Division, and perhaps in the whole American Army, was Henry N. Gunther, Company A., Three Hundred and Thirteenth Infantry. Gunther's home was in Baltimore, and he was killed at one minute of 11 o'clock on November 11, trying to take a German machine gun position.
     Until a short time before the Three Hundred and Thirteenth finished its period of training at Camplitte, Gunther was supply sergeant of his company. A few days before the regiment left for the front he wrote a letter home complaining of certain things about army life, and as this was a violation of the censorship regulations, he was reduced to the grade of private.
     According to his companions, Gunther brooded a great deal over his reduction in rank, and became obsessed with a determination to make good before his officers and fellow-soldiers. Particularly he was worried because he thought himself suspected of being a German sympathizer.
     The regiment went into action a few days after he was reduced, and from the start he displayed the most unusual willingness to expose himself to all sorts of risks and to go on the most dangerous kind of duty. He acquitted himself splendidly in the Montfaucon fight, and on the drive east of the Meuse he was selected to act as a company runner -- particularly dangerous work, for a runner is the bearer of important messages, and must get them delivered, even if his way lies over the most exposed country.

Showed Scorn Of Danger.

     In the role of runner Gunther proved to be a man of the finest mettle. He repeatedly volunteered for duty when communication had to be established over terrain raked by machine guns and subject to heavy shelling. A few days before hostilities ceased he was carrying a message when a German bullet passed through his wrist. He said nothing about his wound, however, when one of his officers, noticing his exhaustion, asked him what was the matter. Having already bound up his arm with a first-aid bandage, he replied that he was a little tired and thought he would take a rest. The next day be reported for duty and went on as usual.
     On November 11 he was still on duty as a runner. His company had been ordered to advance on Ville-Devant-Chaumont, in the extreme right of the Seventy-ninth's sector, and several parties were already in town. Gunther, with one or two other runners and an advance party of riflemen from his company, was just on the outskirts. The order had already come that hostilities were to cease at 11 o'clock.
     Directly ahead there was visible a German machine gun nest. Gunther, according to the men of Company A, must still have been fired by a desire to demonstrate, even at the last minute, that he was courageous and all-American. At a few minutes to 11 he announced that he was going to take that machine gun nest, and though his companions remonstrated, and told him that in a few minutes the "war would be over," he started out, armed with a Browning automatic rifle.

Germans Waved Him Back.

     When the Germans saw him coming they waved at him and called out, in such broken English as they could, to go back, that the war was over. He paid no heed to them, however, and kept on firing a shot or two from his automatic as he went. After several vain efforts to make him turn back, the Germans turned their machine gun on him and at one minute of 11 o'clock Gunther fell dead.
     The guns stopped firing at 11 o'clock -- a few seconds afterwards -- and a few minutes after the German machine gun crew that had killed him came out with a stretcher and placed Gunther on it. They then carried him back to the party from Company A he had left a short time before. They explained that they had tried to keep him from coming on, and that they had to shoot him in self-defense. They insisted on shaking hands with the Americans, after which they set Gunther down and returned to their own lines.

I don't want to give too much commentary on the events. To this day, people still dispute Henry's rationale for charging the German machine gun nest. Some claim his death was essentially a suicide. I am simply relating what was said at the time. However, it seems that the Germans did not want to kill him and they made the respectful effort to return his body to his lines. It is also interesting to note that in the previous story, Henry was referred to as a Sergeant. In this story, he is referred to as a private.

Was Henry under a cloud? The following story, an excerpt of a news story about his company commander visiting Baltimore and speaking at a church, addresses that issue.

The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 14 April 1919,  Mon:


TELLS OF 313TH "BOYS"
-----
Captain Flynn Says Men Of
Company A Are Well And Happy.
-----
HAD "LOTS OF FUN" FIGHTING
-----
Commander Brings Cheer And Tears To
Relatives In St. Patrick's Catholic Church

     Back from France with first-hand knowledge of "his boys" in Company A, Three Hundred and Thirteenth Infantry, Capt. R. W. J. Flynn, commander of that company through all its fighting about Montfaucon, brought cheer and tears last night to hundreds of those boys' relatives in St. Patrick's Church Hall as he recounted their deeds.
     "When I left your boys at Rembercourt, north of Bar-le-duc on the morning of March 7 all of them were happy, healthy and, I'll admit, just a little homesick. However, the homesickness was more for fearing you were worrying over them. They are having only hours' drilling a day; they are having athletics, baseball games and racing in the afternoons; every one of them has had a leave; they are going to sail the latter part of June, and maybe sooner; and they are 'living the life of Riley,'" Captain Flynn concluded.
     That message cheered those boys' mothers and fathers and they crowded about their sons' commanding officer and showered him with questions as to how this one was and what that one looked like. That the captain was able to answer them all showed that he was close to his men.
     Company A, of the Three Hundred and Thirteenth, has a number of men from East Baltimore, many of them former parishioners of St. Patrick's. Sergt. Henry Gunther, the last man in the regiment to be killed, was of Company A. And, according to Captain Flynn, he was laboring under a delusion when he thought he was "in wrong" with the officers and men and went out single-handed to capture a German machine-gun nest the last minute of the war. He needed no vindication -- he had shown his metal in the fighting above Montfaucon....

It seems that Henry felt himself in the wrong, but his commander and the men in the unit did not feel that way. The men viewed him as a hero.

The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 25 September 1921, Sunday:

Henry's mother achieved her goal of having his remains returned to Baltimore. Here's the death notice:

Sadly, Henry's father George Gunther wouldn't live to see the funeral. He died on 19 June 1919 at the age of fifty after a lingering illness. Henry's mother Lena would die at the age of seventy-one on 27 June 1938.

The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 03 November 1921, Thursday:



TO PROBE MONUMENT PLAN
-----
Baltimore To Seek Honor For Son As Last Man Killed In War.

     Immediate steps will be taken to confirm the report that France is to erect a monument to the memory of the last man of the Allied armies to fall in battle, according to an announcement yesterday by Karl Singewald, Maryland secretary, War Records Commission. When it is verified Baltimore's claim that Private Henry N. Gunther was the last soldier to lose his life before the armistice will be substantiated and forwarded to the War Department.
     Private Gunther was a son of Mrs. Lena Gunther, 3011 Eastern avenue. He was a member of the Three Hundred and Thirteenth Infantry and was killed a few minutes before the armistice was proclaimed, at 11 o'clock on the morning of November 11, 1918.

The War Department and the French Government must have agreed with Mr. Singewald and the city of Baltimore. The French did erect a monument to honor Private Gunther at the spot where he fell. (Also, notice that Gunther is referred to as a private, not a Sergeant, in this story.)

Here's the memorial:

Photo from Veteran's Breakfast Club

Why Henry Gunther died is irrelevant to me. All I can say for certain is that he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. His heroism in the waning days of the war is undisputed. I am only too happy to honor him and tell his story again!

And if you're ever in Holy Redeemer Cemetery, feel free to drop by his grave and pay your respects.

Remember, there is a story behind every grave. You never know what you're missing when you walk past one....

Do you want to see Henry's draft registration form?  Here it is:

*Father George F. Jonaitis served as a chaplain in both World War I and World War II. During his service, he lost a hand. He was given special dispensation from the Pope to say mass with only one hand. He died on 28 December 1963 at the age of eighty-three. 

Grave Tales:

My novel Chapel Street is now available! You can buy the Kindle and paperback at Amazon and the Nook, paperback and hardcover at Barnes & NobleChapel Street is the tale of a young man battling a demonic entity that has driven members of his family to suicide for generations. It was inspired by an actual haunting. 


Learn more about the book, click Here.

Listen to me read some chapters here:


Read about the true haunting that inspired the novel here:

The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 1, An Introduction
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 2, The House
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 3, This Is Us
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 4, Arrival
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 5, Methodology
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 6, Clara's Tale, Pt. 1
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 7, Clara's Tale, Pt. 2
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 8, My Tale, Pt. 1
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 9, My Tale, Pt. 2
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 10, My Tale, Pt. 3
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 11, Natalia's Tale, Pt. 1
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 12, Natalia's Tale, Pt. 2
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 13, John's Tale, Pt. 1 
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 14, John's Tale, Pt. 2
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 15, Come Inside!
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 16, Marion's Tale, Pt. 1
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 17, Marion's Tale, Pt. 2
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 18, Jeanne's Tale, Pt. 1
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 19, Jeanne's Tale, Pt. 2
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 20, Lisa's Tale
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 21, Recap, Pt. 1
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 22, Recap, Pt. 2
The Haunting of 21 St. Helens Avenue, Part 23, Recap, Pt. 3

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